March 07, 2005

Great reads: I have a lot of favorite reads from the world of sportswriting, but one of the best is this snippet from Every Crushing Stroke by Scott Shipley. While the book is a training manual for whitewater slalom kayaking, there are some amusing anecdotes in the foreword from the author's own experiences in the sport. Here, he writes about the team processing that the US Olympians went through prior to heading over to Spain for the Barcelona Olympics. Shipley had been living year-round in a tree house in western Canada in order to train, and the passage describes what happens when broke and starving athletes are suddenly turned loose in a room full of free stuff. Just in case you wondered about all those companies that are "official alarm clock to the US Olympic Team" or whatever...

The whole of team process is a bizarre orgy of giving that is some sort of exponential expansions of a two-hour shopping spree being multiplied by all of your Christmases put together...[Y]ou are ushered into a large room and given a gigantic shopping cart. Let the orgy begin.

The room is like a warehouse filled with shelves and tables around its perimeter. You go to each of these tables and simply offer them the size of clothes you wear. They check your name off the list and fill your cart with treasure. Ten or twelve shirts, three pairs of new shoes, new camera, new alarm clock, and three pairs of pants to go with your four pairs of shorts. Any and everything fills your cart. Somewhere along the way you adopt a Cabbage Patch doll, get a massage, have your teeth checked for lurking cavities, and later cough twice to check for hernias.

This was the sort of booty pirates had written shanties about and we whipped ourselfes into a feverish feeding frenzy. I ran from table to table getting anything they had to offer; free shaving cream that I wouldn't need for years to come, cologne that I wouldn't wear even if I were anonymous, tampons and hairdryers. We were sharks who smelled blood and we didn't care if we were getting fine tuna or some putrid tourist wrapped in neoprene.

Shipley is a three-time whitewater kayak slalom world champion. Now retired from competition, he spends most of his time designing whitewater parks.

posted by lil_brown_bat to navel gazing at 09:47 AM - 22 comments

WTF is this?

posted by dusted at 12:15 PM on March 07, 2005

WTF is this? What it appears. I was bored, nobody's saying anything, nothing's happening, everybody's waiting for March Madness to gel, it's sports-related, etc. I could be alone in this, but it doesn't appear any more WTF to me than commentary on Google ads or someone's Toronto road trip.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:56 PM on March 07, 2005

I wrote "WTF?" before I had a cup of coffee. Sorry for being rude. This could be a good Ask Spofi topic ("what are your favorite sportswriting snippets?" for example), but a "more inside" would have looked a lot better.

posted by dusted at 03:08 PM on March 07, 2005

i like good writing. and treehouses. we've also let that photo of the week idea slide. any entries?

posted by garfield at 04:19 PM on March 07, 2005

dusted: a "more inside" would have looked a lot better. Right you are. Will do in future. garfield: we've also let that photo of the week idea slide. any entries? What was the photo of the week idea?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:21 PM on March 07, 2005

ah, there was a lockerroom post just for pics. wc2k2 was down with the idea, and i think he had some good entries as well. the general idea was link dump for pics. funny, scary, awesome, whatever. just show the essence of sport. could be like flash friday fun (ahem, ahem). besides....athletes are always caught on film looking stupid (go look at the tiger/phil thread), why not centralize such stupidity?

posted by garfield at 04:27 PM on March 07, 2005

LBB, did you copy and paste the quoted text or type it in yourself? If the latter no biggie but if not, that book sure missed a vacation in Hawaii with a copy editor. Amusing anecdote but IMO, sorry, does not come close to a favorite sports read.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:14 PM on March 07, 2005

billsaysthis: I did type it in, and you're right, the book needed a better editor for punctuation and diction and whatnot (errors were faithfully reproduced). As far as its not being a favorite sports read, I guess you had to be there (or read the rest of the book) to get the juxtaposition of the poverty, extreme hardship, and sadistic workouts of a typical slalom kayaker with the comfort and luxury once you make the team.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:02 PM on March 07, 2005

something like this photo?

posted by jasonspaceman at 07:43 AM on March 08, 2005

yeah! and this.

posted by garfield at 09:00 AM on March 08, 2005

and this MLB commentary

posted by garfield at 09:37 AM on March 08, 2005

I like this one. I'm biased though, I have Lance Mackey on my fantasy Iditarod team.

posted by 86 at 09:42 AM on March 08, 2005

btw, nice work picking up Mackey off the waiver wire. beat me to the punch.

posted by garfield at 09:55 AM on March 08, 2005

Is that Husky wearing some sort of boot/hoof hybrid?

posted by usfbull at 12:59 PM on March 08, 2005

they're booties.

posted by goddam at 01:28 PM on March 08, 2005

Ouch, garfield! I like how the kicker looks so calm, like he does that all the time.

posted by dusted at 02:16 PM on March 08, 2005

Dusted, he's French. You can take that to mean kicking in the head is nothing to them or that Frenchmen are just naturally laid back. Your choice.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:39 PM on March 08, 2005

check out the trophy Ernie Els won over the weekend. Hey Nate, we're headed to the big dance.

posted by gspm at 02:39 PM on March 14, 2005

not photoshopped, but looks like it. a giant clam? [insert rosanne barr joke here]

posted by garfield at 02:55 PM on March 14, 2005

'Honey, I think I broke a rubber.'

posted by garfield at 03:21 PM on March 14, 2005

"well, alright. you can have the ball"

posted by garfield at 04:37 PM on March 18, 2005

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